LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky Oaks and Derby are the most important days of the year for Churchill Downs, but neighbors who live near the track are upset about a major barrier that's blocking access to their homes, and putting a damper on opportunities to make a profit.
The biggest complaint, for the past two years, is a temporary fence track officials build along Central Avenue during Derby weekend to help prevent traffic issues.
The fence is helping police effectively and efficiently move crowds and traffic into Churchill Downs. However, nearby residents say although the fence may prevent traffic issues, it's also preventing them from getting to their homes.
And it is putting a major damper on their ability make extra money by parking cars on their property, as they have become accustomed to doing for decades.
Still, enterprising entrepreneurs are finding ways to make a buck.
Alonza Arnett has been parking cars in a lot for Oaks and Derby for 30 years, but that has been a challenge since the fence was put in place.
"Well you know with Churchill closing off Central early in the morning, we have to reroute our cars to the backside," Arnett said. To continue his business, Arnett has been taking reservations online and emailing directions to his prospective customers.
That approach helped customer Bill Hayes, who is from Nebraska, find his way through the back streets to get to Arnett's lot.
Rachel Brown, also a Derby veteran who has been offering off-street parking for years, is now counting on advance reservations too. Even so, it's a challenge to recapture the business, because of the physical barriers in place.
"With the fences being up, it makes it hard for them to get here," Brown said.
Calvin Young has been selling his First Bite Barbecue along Central Avenue for 20 years. He says the fence is preventing visitors from getting the full Oaks and Derby experience.
"We want to show you a little bit of what we do in our neighborhood," Young said. And I just think that this fence is preventing that from happening."
Young did acknowledge that the fence has actually brought more foot traffic his way, but he says it's not just about him.
"It's like this man," Arnett said. "Churchill Downs is having a party in our back yard, and we're not invited. I don't think that's right."
But with a little hustle, Arnett expected to almost completely fill his lot by the end of Oaks Day, working around the obstacles. "I've got several limousines coming in, so I'm happy, but I'm not excited," he said.
Despite the obstacles to their attempts to cash in on their makeshift parking lots, the neighbors near the track have once again proven the old adage, "Where's there a will, there's a way."
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